African WW2 heroes celebrated

Zimbabwean RAPHAEL CHIKUKWA, curator of the Imperial War Museum North, has been on a journey of discovery across eastern and southern Africa uncovering the forgotten stories of African veterans.
"In the past we had other people writing our History and today we are writing our own"

perial War Museum North presents a small but powerful exhibition charting the often overlooked experiences and contributions of Second World War African veterans. Featuring newly-commissioned photographic portraits, images from Imperial War Museum’s own archives, film footage and the words of the men themselves, this exhibition, along with an un-missable series of accompanying events, marks Black History Month in October.
Both an exploration of family history (Chikukuwa’s father served in Burma in the Second World War and his grandfather served in the First World War), and other previously untold stories of African Heroes, Chikukwa interviewed veterans and visited war graves across Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Zambia. Their personal stories create a unique and personal view of African participation in the Second World War. They are a reminder of how war shapes lives and the hidden histories among the people around us.
During the Second World War forces from the Empire and Commonwealth were involved in campaigns across Southern & Western Europe, the Mediterranean, North and East Africa, South East Asia, the Pacific, the Middle East, in the air and all the major oceans of the world, as well as working tirelessly on the home front. Their contribution played a major part in the Allied victories.
Forces from Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) and Tanganyika (now Tanzania) served in the East African Divisions in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Others served in all branches of the British Armed Forces and others produced large amounts of goods and raw materials for the war effort. In 1943 and 1944, African troops of the East and West African divisions were sent to South East Asia to fight the Japanese. The African soldiers fought alongside other Empire and Commonwealth troops in the jungles of Burma. In January 1944, troops from the Royal West African Frontier Force were one of the first Allied units to force Japanese soldiers to surrender. African troops were excellent jungle fighters and were feared by the Japanese. Nearly 120,000 African troops served in South East Asia.
This project means a lot to me and to the African people at large. During my O Level Studies in Zimbabwe we studied European History. The contribution of Africans towards the First and Second World Wars was not mentioned at all and even today very little is known about them fighting for the Empire. Today I am happy that they are telling their story and that as the son of a veteran that I am doing it for them.
These are some of the Forgotten Heroes of the Commonwealth telling their stories. The recognition by Imperial War Museum North, for us as Africans, to rewrite our own History is very important to all of us. In the past we have seen the West writing about us and now it’s high time we as Africans write our own History. This is a new chapter about the contributions of Africans towards the First and Second World Wars . –

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